Thursday, September 25, 2008

Same Planet, Different Worlds

In spite of reports that Sarah Palin is not convinced that global warming is man-made, Republicans still appear to embrace the basic concept of energy efficiency. Why? Because it makes sense. It reduces expenses. It saves money. It’s cost effective. And, as people are starting to realize in today’s economic climate: It’s not only how much you make that’s important, it’s how much you spend.

A number of conservatives, including Palin, take energy efficiency very seriously. Their desire to be energy efficient – to reduce energy waste and to increase our productivity in relation to our energy consumption – could be a common link between Democrats and Republicans.

The Republican National Convention earlier this month provided a Green Fact Sheet for how they are running an Eco-Friendly Convention by using flexible-fuel and hybrid vehicles, developing a paperless system for recruiting and registering volunteers, and using the internet and other modes of communication that do not involve physical travel.

The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul-Minneapolis, which was the hosting venue for the RNC, also boasts of an extensive recycling program for plastic, glass and paper as well as for used cooking oil. Hot water is produced by District Energy , which uses wood chips (biomass) as well as natural gas, oil, and “clean burning coal” to fuel its heating and cooling systems. And low-flow faucets are installed in all the restrooms.

Given a choice between something that is cost effective and something that is not, both Democrats and Republicans will apparently chose the former. And that may be our common ground.

In his August 29, 2008 post on , Hank Green (cool last name) wrote: "It's not about asking people to choose, it's giving them a better choice. If you build a light bulb that's cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, has better light quality, and works exactly the same, people won't be choosing a better technology, they'll be choosing the only technology left."

Regardless of their political ideology, most people admit that the way to an American’s heart is through his or her wallet. Provide people with an alternative that makes financial sense – especially in hard times – and they will take it every time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Accidental Environmentalist

This past week the official site of the Democratic National Convention offered an entire “Greening” page on their website, which included several useful Green Tips of the Week

My favorite is Tip #38:

Stop Mail Delivery of Catalogs
Catalog Choice is a FREE service which offers participants the ability to choose which catalogs end up in their mailbox. The steps are simple and you can opt out of most catalogs through one comprehensive website. Visit for more information and to choose which catalogs you wish to discontinue. The mission of Catalog Choice is to reduce the number of repeat and unwanted catalog mailings, and to promote the adoption of sustainable industry best practices. Choose to shop online at your favorite retailers rather than using their catalogs!

I'm not a big fan of catalogs anyway, so this is a win-win for me and for the environment. And really, at the end of the day, that is what will inspire me to be more green. Like most Americans, my sense of altruism only goes so far. At some point, I have to see a clear, positive outcome in order to stick with a learned behavior.

I am not an environmentalist by nature (no pun intended); but I am concerned about what is happening to our planet, and I do want to help make things better. I won’t debate with anyone whether global warming is real or not. The fact of the matter is, regardless, we are polluting our planet and squandering our natural resources to such an extent that even the most hardened skeptic must at some point address the issue of sustainability.

On January 26, 2007, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13423, which states:
…“sustainable” means to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans…

If we stop bickering about the topics of the day and start dealing with the real issues – that is, what each of us can do, personally, to reduce, recycle, reuse, and rethink our current lifestyle and business choices – we might all become accidental environmentalists…and improve our bottom line while we’re at it.